Adult education within correctional facilities
: with specific reference to and recommendations for the Northern Territory

  • Julia Margaret Knight

    Student thesis: Other thesis - CDU


    Incorporating two inter-related research objectives, this study of adult education within correctional facilities was concerned to first critically evaluate the provision of education to inmates within the Northern Territory's three adult prisons – namely, Darwin Prison, Gunn Point Prison Farm and Alice Springs Gaol. In light of this critical evaluation, the second objective of the research study was to provide recommendations concerning the improvement and future direction of prisoner education in the Northern Territory.

    As a means of providing a theoretical framework within which valid questions concerning the provision of prisoner education might be formulated, the review of literature included a brief historical overview of the major schools of criminological thought and the philosophy of adult education. The 'justice' model of corrections was found to provide the best framework within which to evaluate prison education policy and practice.

    Providing a backdrop for the subsequent analysis of prisoner education in the Northern Territory, consideration was given to the degree of fit between educational policy and practice in the UK, Canada, the USA and other parts of Australia. This served to highlight the fact that in spite of policy statements which actively support the provision of education to inmates, at the operational level such provision was invariably determined by individual perceptions as to the function of imprisonment and the role of education as an aspect of imprisonment. In general, the function of imprisonment was seen to be one of punishment with education being acknowledged as a means of keeping prisoners busy; a management tool. Moreover, such attitudes were seen to be responsible for seriously undermining the provision of education to prisoners.

    On the basis of the data collected - incorporating a self-administered attitude questionnaire, interviews of inmates, Prison Educators, administrative staff and prison services staff and factual data provided by the Departments of Education and Correctional Services - it was found that the difficulties associated with the provision of correctional education within the Northern Territory were essentially the same as those experienced elsewhere in Australia and overseas. In addition, problems were identified with regards to the type of program deemed to be most suited to the needs of the Northern Territory's predominantly Aboriginal inmate population.

    Correctional education within the Northern Territory was not only found to be extremely 'accommodative' but in serious breach of both the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (1957) promulgated by the United Nations and the Standard Guidelines for Corrections in Australia (1989). The recommendations put forward outline the minimal changes that need to be made if the Northern Territory is to meet its obligations with respect to these guidelines.
    Date of Award1991
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBrian Devlin (Supervisor) & Michael Christie (Supervisor)

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